Notes from a Walkman Junkie: Pants Optional
While going through my old books and files I ran across a random list of items containing the following contents: Champagne, milk, deodorant, blonde wig, contact lens stuff. Clearly, this was a list made out in preparation for a camping trip. OK, it was actually just an old grocery list drawn up by my ex-husband years ago (we always covertly added ‘blonde wig’ to each other’s lists). He and I were all about the making of lists, particularly in preparation for something unfamiliar and therefore on the frightening side like an extended camping trip. We were invited to join my then brother-in-law and his wife in Spain for a two-week-long camping trip. This sounded like a potentially fun adventure and we felt confident enough in the hands of our ‘experienced camper’ travel companions to not even bother with our fancy and often superfluous lists. That being said, there are always situations that one cannot be primed for regardless of copious planning and ‘listing’, as it were.
We had been driving for several hours toward our camping destination and began scouting out a place to pull over for a refreshing beverage as we were all quite parched. There was a fair amount of difficulty in finding a bar type joint that was not, shall we say, on the sketchy side, to put it mildly. The four of us had taken to quipping the inquiry, “Is this where they rape us?” after passing by each establishment we wisely chose to give a miss. Our dire need for thirst quenching, however, eventually got the better of us so we parked and entered one of the shifty road joints. Once inside, it was immediately and painfully realized that, oh… THIS IS where they rape us. A classic ‘record-scratch’ moment ensued with everyone in the bar (where apparently neither shirts nor teeth are required) eying us as we edged our way to a corner table, staying close together and grinning nervously. This was followed by a very ‘Goonies-esque’ moment when we were served four glasses of brown liquid, laughingly referred to as ‘water’ by a man who looked at us like we were delicious ‘cartoon-ized’ turkeys ready to be devoured. With the desired goal of leaving unscathed, specifically ‘unraped’, we ordered our drinks, downed them, tipped the drooling scary toothless man, and huddled together while promptly backing our way out of the front entrance.
Once back on the road and out of the perceived imminent danger, we spotted a beach in the distance and felt it was a much needed and deserved relaxing stop. Upon arriving, we quickly came to the conclusion that this was a clothing optional beach and everyone there seemed to be expressly opting to NOT wear pants. We chose to keep our clothing on and did our best to turn a blind eye to the popular pantsless activities surrounding us. The observed sans-pants recreation consisted mostly of reading and eating sandwiches (A bit unsettling to see) and playing volleyball and badminton (DEAR GOD, MY EYES!!). After this second disturbing/horrifying stop, we pressed on to the campsite where we set up tents and such while listening to music. My brother-in-law was going through a Luscious Jackson phase at the time and consequently I had heard the song, “Naked Eye” to the point of exhaustion, which for me was merely more than once. To add insult to injury, a girl who had been hanging around our campsite and enjoying the vastly overplayed tune wanted me to recite the lyrics to her in English so she could sing along more effectively. I begrudgingly agreed and proceeded to slowly enumerate the lyrics in a dry, monotone manner. ”WITH MY NAKED EYE I EEEE I SAW…” There is a tremendous amount of lyrical repetition in this particular song which caused me to flatly drone on and on with seemingly no end in sight. It was very reminiscent of when I served as a social worker and was witness to a practice performance of the song, “Calendar Girl” by an autistic patient named Mark. I was meeting with Mark in my office for a weekly check-in and inquired if he planned to participate in the upcoming annual (mentally ill) talent show. Mark said, “Yes, Calendar Girl” in a robotic tone. I started to say, “Oh, that’s great” when I was interrupted by Mark loudly blurting out, “JANUARY, YOU START THE YEAR OFF FINE.” This was followed by a long enough pause that I again started to say, “Well, that sounds like a fine choice” only to be smacked by Mark abruptly chanting, “FEBRUARY, YOU’RE MY LITTLE VAL-EN-TINE.” Mark persisted in his serenade, leaving me to endure the most unmodulated rendition of Calendar Girl (ALL TWELVE MONTHS) known to man.
Aside from a bit of fear, monotony, and pantsless sporting events, the camping trip was a pretty pleasant experience. In hindsight though, I do wish I would have made a camping trip prep-list, which certainly would have included a walkman… and a blonde wig. I am attaching a song by Low, a musically unusual and fantastically haunting band that definitely would have made my camping play list.